"Balancing faith and lifestyle choices". Mr. Big is one quarter of a Poly-fi quad. His column will focus on his current struggles to find balance between his chosen lifestyle and the faith he was taught to believe. Join him while he journeys the path of enlightenment.
Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.
Unusual Bible Heros
When Chias asked me to write this column, it had been based on a blog I once wrote about my personal search to find a balance between my Christian faith and my lifestyle choice of polyamory. I have expanded my studies of both faith and lifestyle in an attempt to find this common ground. After coming out as poly to my father who is a Fundamental Christian, he lent me a few of his books from seminar. He was agnostic while I was growing up. The late in life transition makes his beliefs very deep seated but he is still very approachable. I have finally finished the first volume of “The Story of Christianity” by Justo L Gonzalez and am reading a business book as a break before starting the second volume. The first 400 plus pages has taken me as far as early colonial times in the Americas.
I found a hero in the first volume by the name of Peter Abelard. He was a forerunner of scholasticism in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. He spent much of his youth studying under the most famous scholars of his time, finding them wanting, and letting them know his opinion of them. With friends like that, who needs enemies? His main contribution to the development of scholastic theology was the book “Yes and No”, in which he took up 158 theological questions and then showed that various authorities, including the Bible and the ancient Christian writers, did not agree on their answers.
Naturally, such a book aroused great opposition, especially coming from one whom at best was suspected of heresy. Abelard’s purpose, however, does not seem to have been to discredit the authorities he set against each other , but simply to show that theology must not be content with quoting authorities. It was necessary, as he saw matters, to find ways to reconcile such apparently contradictory authorities. Eventually, scholasticism used this method, for the typical scholastic work began by posing a question and then quoting authorities who seemed to support one answer, and other authorities that seemed to support another. What the scholastics did, and Abelard did not do, was then to offer an answer and “solution” that showed how it was possible for all the authorities quoted to be correct.
So why the force fed history lesson? Apparently I find myself relating to this type of method. I like the search for common ground between two seemingly opposing stances. Wanting to be true to both parts of my life, Christianity and polyamory, this search brings me some kind of piece of mind. On the other hand, I am keenly aware of my ability to rationalize a situation to a point where white is black and up is down. Not only can I convince myself, but I’m enough of a salesman to bring a hoard of others with me. As convinced as we all are, at that point, that day is in fact, night, the truth is still pointing the opposite direction. Unfortunately, I can’t tell the difference when it is happening. It’s the proverbial problem of not seeing the forest for the trees. I can tell you that I am now calm enough with my blending of worlds to have trouble always finding subjects for this column.
The increased studying has also forced me to clarify concepts and words to better define my stance and beliefs. I believe myself to be both fundamentally conservative and also a Christian, but when I blended those words in a previous column, I very quickly was made aware that my understanding of those words didn’t agree with much of society. I would dare say that with this additional clarity, I have found myself to be more liberal than I expected.
New schools of thought are a good thing. The cream rises to the top. Over time, the thoughts of heretics are thrown out and the good remains. If you are enough of either one, perhaps some guy will find your name in an obscure history book a millennium from now and write about you in his even more obscure column.
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Mr. Big; January 31, 2007
folks have read this article.